Modernist and Contemporary Spanish American Literature

In his “Viaje a la semilla,” Alejandro Carpentier experiments with the possibility, and the difficulty, of narration as a move from the present toward the past instead of a succession of events toward the future. Such possibility, such difficulty, of going against the temporal grain brings with it an extraordinary opportunity to explore events and cultural artifacts as if they were new things, or better yet, as unfamiliarly familiar things. This course takes Carpentier’s idea of obverse narration as a model to study the literary production of Spanish America from the present toward the past. Instead of seeing literary movements as instances of evolution or succession (Modernismoà vanguardiaà posmodernismoà boomà postboomà boomerangà X), we will defamiliarize them and study them as unique forms of linkage with their own contexts (but this time backward, as crabs move). Also, beyond understanding rhetorical foundations as strict aesthetic embodiments, we will aim at studying them as explosions of meaning; for this reason the course will incorporate other forms of cultural production in addition to literature (plastic arts, music, journalism, advertisement). The format of the course asks for strong participation and engagement of the students. This is not a lecture in the traditional way, but more of an informed, serious, intense conversation.

Some of the authors we may study are Vásquez, Vallejo, Bolaño, Cabrera Infante, Valenzuela, Poniatowska, Castellanos, Cardenal, Fuentes, Paz, Rulfo, Cortázar, Carpentier, Borges, Guillén, Agustini, Darío, Martí, Silva, Gutiérrez Nájera, and Casal.

Theoretically informed by ecocritical literary theory, this course aims to offer students a reading of Latin(X) America’s contemporary literatures from environmental justice perspectives. We will address the connection between ecology, culture, and literature in order to explore the diverse ways Latin(X) American narratives address the question of the environment. The course is divided into two parts, “Ecocritical Theory” and “Ecocritical Readings”. In the first half of the course we will read and discuss contemporary theories related to environmental justice, including Alberto Acosta’s La maldición de la abundancia, Arturo Escobar’s Sentirpensar con la tierra, Lawrence Buell’s The Environmental Imagination, Jason Moore’s The Capitolocene, among others. In the second part of the course, we will read novels and watch films that include Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Paramo, Manlio Argueta’s Un dia en la vida, Romulo Gallegos’ Doña Barbara, Jose Maria Arguedas Los rios profundos, Elizabeth Burgos and Rigoberta Menchu’s Me llamo Rigoberta Menchu, among others.

Prerequisites: SPAN 371 and 373.

Previously Offered:

Fall 2017, Spring 2019